Kiss The Flag Goodbye: And Point Us Toward Tomorrow: Time To Diminish The Hatred

(`) Liberty CriesThey won’t give it up on their own. Some say it is because their great grand pappy fought for it; others say it represents what used to be that fine old culture;  and others have other reasons. All are good if there were not another side to it.

I do not suppose that type of reasoning or excuse carried much weight after the war when it came to the Nazi flag or any other Nazi symbol in Germany. They saw its horrors and banned it. Why then should we not do the same thing in America when it comes to the Confederate Flag which for many blacks (and others) is as abhorrent as the Nazi flag is for many Jews (and others).

I got thinking of this when I read a column by Derrick Z. Jackson wherein he wrote: “For most African Americans, myself included, the Confederate flag is as offensive as a Nazi swastika, a supreme symbol of the oppression and horror sanctioned under slavery and segregation.”

Jackson’s column was in praise of the 5 to 4 Supreme Court decision giving the State of Texas the right to refuse to make license plates with Confederate flags on them. When I first finished reading it I thought of how the rule of law in our land often comes down to one man or woman’s vote which does not seem right in a country of over 315 million people. Jackson was happy with the decision; but a change by one of the judges to the dissent side would have made him extremely unhappy.

Then my thoughts turned to what he said that I quoted above and how offensive that flag is to blacks. Then I recalled, Governor Baker being quoted as saying about the flag: “South Carolinians can make their own call. I do believe that the reason that flag still hangs there is, you know, what I would call sort of ‘tradition’ or something like that.” After getting some backlash on the issue he changed his position to saying the Confederate flag should be taken down. But apparently up to that point he had no problem with it. It appears he had no idea how offensive this symbol was to blacks until the other day.

I thought that pointed to a huge divide between whites and blacks in this country. Most whites don’t seem to understand the disdain blacks have for the flag. I wondered why it is that Jackson and others of his race have to put up with this? I then thought “you would think he would do something about it rather than just lament.”

I know you all think there is nothing he can do. It is a First Amendment issue involving freedom of speech and hate speech is one of the permissible forms of speech. That may be so but there is a way around that, a good way. Not by a law from Congress that can be played with by judges or enforced by some prosecutors and not others. Not by a law that will get entangled in the intricacies of the First Amendment .

This law would be one that would require those in office to either stand up for the blacks or tell them to get over it. It would be one of those times in our history where every elected official will be required to show their colors. It would not be a law passed by Congress but one enacted by the people: it would be a Constitutional Amendment specifically declaring that the First Amendment does not apply to any law outlawing the public display of the Confederate flag or any symbol containing it.

If the Confederate flag is to the blacks in America what the Nazi swastika is to the Jews in Germany it should be removed from public display. You have to be oblivious as Governor Baker not to have recognized as John Stewart described it talking about the Charlestown murders,the nexus of a just gaping racial wound that will not heal.”

Time to stop pretending the gap does not exist and is becoming wider. Time to come together as Americans to start to clean our house of hatred. Let’s kiss the flag goodbye and point America to a better tomorrow. Time for a Constitutional Amendment outlawing the Confederate flag.

23 thoughts on “Kiss The Flag Goodbye: And Point Us Toward Tomorrow: Time To Diminish The Hatred

  1. I agree, Matt. The flag is a symbol of hatred and oppression. It was enfuriating to see it flying high over the South Carolina capital while other flags, including the Stars and
    Stripes, we’re flown at half-mast.

  2. “it would be a Constitutional Amendment specifically declaring that the First Amendment does not apply…”

    Oh that pesky First Amendment! Why stop at the exhibition of any particular flag? Pass an amendment that revokes the First Amendment in its entirety so that the government can decide what can or cannot be said, based on what the majority of the voters in the most recent election preferred or who is currently demonstrating the loudest outside government offices. Better yet, ban those noisy demonstrations. They distress me personally, so I know that they distress others as well. What could possibly go wrong?

    While we are at it, let us revoke the rest of those pesky Amendments to the U.S. Constitution also. They just get in the way of efficient administration of government that you truly deserve.

    “People deserve the government they get, and they deserve to get it good and hard.” – H.L Mencken

    ”Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” -George Washington

    “The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.” -James Madison

    ”If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” -George Washington

    BTW U.S. flag etiquette is that the the U.S. flag not be displayed lower than other flags.

    http://www.usflag.org/flagetiquette.html

      1. The Confederate flag is displayed inappropriately, but your cited NY Post article states that the display of that flag in South Carolina is under the control of a private group, not the state government.

        There is “flag etiquette”, then for those who need the cudgel of law to compel them to act appropriately, there is U.S. Code.

        http://www.usflag.org/nffhalfstaff.html

        From U.S. Code:
        “(c) No other flag or pennant should be placed above or, if on the same level, to the right of the flag of the United States of America, except during church services conducted by naval chaplains at sea, when the church pennant may be flown above the flag during church services for the personnel of the Navy.”

        “(e) The flag of the United States of America should be at the center and at the highest point of the group when a number of flags of States or localities or pennants of societies are grouped and displayed from staffs.”
        (f) When flags of States, cities, or localities, or pennants of societies are flown on the same halyard with the flag of the United States, the latter should always be at the peak. When the flags are flown from adjacent staffs, the flag of the United States should be hoisted first and lowered last. No such flag or pennant may be placed above the flag of the United States or to the United States flag’s right.

        (g) When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they are to be flown from separate staffs of the same height. The flags should be of approximately equal size. International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace.”

        Also see Section (m) for half-staff display:
        https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/4/7

        1. That flag flies on state-owned land. The Post says the flag should be taken down. I agree. Am I right in assuming you want the flag to remain?

          1. In this context, I equate the flying of the Stars and Bars with someone giving the finger. Neither is appropriate, both are vulgar and intentionally offensive to many, yet both are protected speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. I would not advocate amending the U.S. Constitution to change this protection.

            https://www.aclu.org/aclu-history-taking-stand-free-speech-skokie
            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/geoffrey-r-stone/remembering-the-nazis-in_b_188739.html
            http://scholarship.law.duke.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3589&context=lcp

            Perhaps you would find this video interesting?

            “CNN’s Bernard Shaw destroys Michael Dukakis in 1988 Presidential Debate”:

          2. Sorry. “The finger” doesn’t come close to the symbol for slavery and treason. There’s really no comparison. And if you happen to find a middle-finger flag flying over a state capital, let me know. My reaction will be the same: Take it down.

          3. Dan:

            The finger flag or the peace symbol flag being used as analogies shows how significant and different the Confederate flag is. It represents the idea of white supremacy. It just is not a good idea to parading that idea about in times where racial tensions seem to be on the rise.

          4. Ed:

            The idea is to make the Confederate flag not protective speech because of what it represents.

        2. Ed:

          I spent a few years understanding flag etiquette when I was an officer in the service. One thing I could never quite figure out is the rule that said no flag should be flown to the right of the American flag. Is that to the right when you are looking at it or when you are looking away from it. The way I got around it was to fly the other flags a little bit lower.

    1. Ed:

      As I have pointed out in prior posts our freedom of speech is being limited in many ways by the way the government has made criminal some of our speech which I have suggested runs contrary to the First Amendment. You don’t have to do away with the amendment. The idea behind an amendment is to use it like a bullet. Nothing will be lost if we outlawed the use of the Confederate flag to our speech rights other than preventing those who want to use the symbol to suggest there was something good about the Confederate state who sought to enslave people.

      1. “The idea behind an amendment is to use it like a bullet.”
        Using such a metaphor for an application of the tyranny of the majority is terrifying. Should we repeat the exercise of the Katyn Forest and apply it to the back of the heads of those who have a different viewpoint from us? After all, that solution did remove many who would not be easily and efficiently “governed”. Perhaps we should pass an amendment banning such suggestions?

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katyn_massacre

        1. Ed:

          You sometimes remind me of the expression reductio ab absurdum. I hope you don’t think that when people were going to go and vote and use a bullet vote that they were going to shoot someone. How you reached the Katyn Forest is beyond me. You should know that FDR knew Uncle Joe was behind that but he went along with the story that the Germans did it.

          1. Odd. Your arguments remind me of “creeping incrementalism” as the list of exceptions grow. If you allow mice to nibble holes in a block of cheese, you could argue that as long as you had an outer shell of cheese, then you had cheese. However, at some point you will have more air than cheese, and then no cheese at all.

            Another example that comes to mind is this one about haggling:

            http://quoteinvestigator.com/2012/03/07/haggling/

            So, can we agree that you advocate more government power and less freedom of speech because you find some current examples of expression of speech objectionable? Do you not see where this can evolve into a more serious problem?

            BTW In response to your question about flags and which direction is “right”, refer to the flag’s right as if you were holding it in a parade line. There should be no other flags to your right, with all flags either to your left or following you. When placing the flag in a flag stand at the head of room, the person holding the flag would be facing the room, so the flag would be placed on the left from the point of view of someone standing in the back of the room.

  3. So symbols such as flags really do have enormous emotional impact. I can remember saying that to people in Cambridge in 1968 who defended the anti-Vietnam protesters burning US flags, and being derided for my ideas because flags are just ‘archaic meaningless cloth symbols .’

    So much depends on whose ‘meaningless symbols.’

    1. Henry:

      True – Flags carry a lot of meaning – when I was in the service morning and night we paused to show our respect for it and dared not let it touch the ground. Flags have led many people to their deaths in combat. The Confederate flag may have different meanings to many people but it does seem to be an unnecessary symbol at this time and is a cause of a lot of aggravation because no matter when you see it today you know it is an in-your-face reproach to blacks. My sense is we are sitting on a little time bomb that is about to explode with a law officer’s bullet hitting the wrong person; everyone seems to recognize this and suggest we have a national dialogue on race (I think Hillary said that the other day). My suggestion to ban the flag would certainly start that dialogue and rather than talking about talking the fat would be in the fire and people would have to make a stand.

  4. Matt, I absolutely respect you and your forum. I also greatly appreciate your wisdom and insight on many issues and believe truly on truth and justice. On this particular issue I believe that you are under informed and lack insight and perspective on this and the larger issue. While an aggravating factor slavery was not the cause of the Civil War. It is far more complicated than that. The portrayal of slavery in modern media is very distorted in an attempt to lay slavery out as the sole cause. Many slaveholders truly felt and maintained a paternalistic toward their slaves. Less than 10% of all southerners owned slaves. It was also an institution that we inherited from Colonial Britain which was also rampant through out the Caribbean, Central and South America. I am not condoning it but can keep it in an historical perspective. In huge part it was a war about cotton and what was transpiring with global industrialization coupled with states rights and the Southern perspective on why they had agreed to join the original union in the first place. They viewed the Union as an invader seeking to subjugate them. I grew up, lived and was educated in the south. This attitude is still held by many. Reconstruction was an absolute disaster for the nation and resulted in further chaos in the north and south. Many of the actions of the Union oppressors were tyrannical. To tell Southerners to ignore and not to honor it’s hero’s who fought against this is crazy. I absolutely abhor slavery as an institution but believe that the Civil War was not necessary and caused huge injury to our nation which endures to this day. It is perhaps our greatest national tragedy. I view it as opportunistic politicians seeking to further divide us. Slavery was an excuse for the north and the institution was unraveling even before the war started due to economic changes. For millions of Americans to have lost their lives over a charade is horribly sad. I believe an orderly transition was possible and everyone would have been better off. If cooler heads had prevailed slavery could have/likely ended by 1880 without all the tremendous, loss and so much pain an suffering been avoided. Now however we must live in peace and respect others for their opinion and perspective. To trample on someones 1st Amendment Rights will only exasperate the situation. If the people of South Carolina and their elected government decide to remove the symbol that is their decision. If an individual seeks to display the symbol that is absolutely a 1st Amendment Right. I am personally offended by the “peace symbol” because it reminds me of the millions of Cambodians, Laotians, and Vietnamese who were slaughtered because of misguided who fought against the efforts of those who fought to save them. I don’t call for banning it though. All Americans need to thoroughly educate themselves and think things through. In the USMC it was commonly said the that “There are no black Marines, or white ones, or yellow, etc. etc., but we were all Green Marines”. I have no doubt that any one of them would have fought with me or to save me had I been in need. As Americans we need to coalesce together. at the same time accepting one another’s state and individual rights and our national heritage. Sincerely, HB

    1. Hi Hank:
      Here are two quick thoughts on slavery. There is simply no factual foundation for the claim that slavery would have peacefully withered away by 1880. The slave states fought aggressively to extend slavery into the Western territories that were then being occupied by the U.S. And most Southern states had passed laws that made it virtually impossible for slave-holders to even free their own slaves. Slave labor propelled the prosperous cotton industry, and there was no desire to see this situation change.

      You speak of “Union oppressors”? Please!

      By the time of the Civil War, about four million blacks — men, women and children — were enslaved. Laws forbade anyone –white or black– to teach slaves how to read or write. They were also forbidden by law to marry, though some slave owners permitted informal unions. Regrettably, these families were subject to dissolution at the whim of the slave holder or when fathers, mothers and/or children were sold off to other slave holders. Men, women and children worked in the fields, with children becoming field workers in 10-to-12-year-old age range, depending in the whim of the master. With no freedom and no access to education, this meant a lifetime of back-breaking work beginning in some cases at age 10!

      By the way, the peace symbol hasn’t killed anybody. And there’s no peace-symbol flag flying proudly at full-mast in a community where nine people have been senselessly slaughtered. That’s the Confederate flag, Hank.

    2. Hank:

      Thanks for the thorough and well thought out comment. I will not reply now but will at some point in the future either in a post or back here. I want to have some more facts in my clip to fire back at you. What I enjoy when reading the type of comment you posted is that you present your opinion and facts in a civil manner even though they are opposite mine rather than calling me a lunkhead or some other name. That help’s everyone who comes here decide for themselves where the truth may lie which is important. We are all on the trek so thoughtful and well considered comments like yours is appreciated.

  5. In what other countries are the flags of vanquished enemies flown on government buildings with honor and reverence? Does the Afghan government fly the flag of the Taliban for the sake of “tradition”? Does the UK government fly a version of the “Don’t Tread on Me” Flag or an IRA flag in honor of their rebellious history?

    There should be no debate. We allow the flying of the flag of the enemy on government buildings because there are those in this country that wish the Confederacy had won. It should be taken down, no questions asked. This not some PC issue to soft shoe around like so many of us do nowadays. What if a state decided to fly the battle flag of Al-Qaeda or ISIS? Is it only OK to fly the stars and bars because Confederate soldiers were white and had the same European ancestry?

    The other negative that this debate has is that it is taking away from a far more serious issue, which is the lack of gun control we have in this country that allows for things like this to happen.

    1. “The other negative that this debate has is that it is taking away from a far more serious issue, which is the lack of gun control we have in this country that allows for things like this to happen.”

      It would appear that “lack of gun control” is not the real problem, but the onset of mental illness that eventually leads someone to act violently against other human beings is. Until someone demonstrates that they are a danger to themselves or others, they are not considered dangerous to themselves or others. Until someone is convicted of felony, then they are not convicted felons.
      It appears that the weapon used in Charleston was purchased legally from a FFL dealer, with a valid NICS background check. The NICS system cannot predict future problems with a valid purchaser of a weapon, nor can Ouija boards.

      While people in the U.S. were focused on events in Charleston, South Carolina, a driver of a dark green SUV in Salzburg, Austria ran his vehicle into a group of pedestrians, killing a child and two adults, and proceeded to stab police officers and the elderly. Besides the 3 immediate deaths, 34 people were injured, with 6 seriously injured:

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3132535/Man-runs-car-crowd-killing-2-injuring-Austria.html

      This being Austria, there is no indication that any people of African descent were hurt and no indication that any particular demographic group was targeted. There is no indication that any guns were involved, but a dark green SUV and a knife were used as weapons. The wife of the SUV driver and the mother of his two children had previously sought a restraining order against him, possibly indicating that there were problems with that individual and how he interacted with other human beings.

      So, learning from this, with some believing that somehow even more gun control would have provided a different outcome in Charleston, should we ban SUVs, especially the dark green ones?
      Should we ban knives?
      Or should we acknowledge that there are deranged individuals among us capable of great violence against their fellow man who will use whatever weapon they can access, even items not usually considered weapons?

      Our current system of gun control by passed law prohibits convicted felons from legally possessing firearms and strictly regulates the transfer and possession of machine guns, short barreled rifles and shotguns, suppressors and explosives. Yet somehow, convicted felons still are able to obtain these items:

      http://www.baynews9.com/content/news/baynews9/news/article.html/content/news/articles/bn9/2015/6/22/authorities_investig.html

      I do not believe William Vincent Metz underwent any NICS or FDLE background checks or paid any taxes to the U.S. Treasury and obtained tax stamps to possess any of those items. Under the SCOTUS decided Haynes v. United States, he was not required to do so, where you and I are:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haynes_v._United_States

      So, gun control is senseless and a waste of our resources. It only provides the illusion of more safety to some.

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